I have such high respect for multi-instrumentalists. Being able to track multiple essential instruments in a song’s composition is no easy feat and certainly something I love listening to when finished. Unfortunately, Keith D’s multi-instrumentalism isn’t enough on its own to make up for the subtle issues that keep Unearthed Elf’s Into The Catacomb Abyss from being anything more than an average piece of work.
The album, which is to be released on October 31st, 2016, is kicked off by its self-titled track, and you’ll notice the song is pretty decent, filled with enjoyable guitar riffs, and a straightforward, yet effective rhythm. “Never See The Sun Again” is also a surprisingly good song that is well structured. In fact, this entire album is filled with these well-produced tracks that are far from what I’d consider bad. So, why the low score?
It took until halfway through to put my finger on what bothered me so much about this record. Each song bares way too many similar qualities and the lack of diversity makes for a fairly boring listen by the end of its runtime. Now, I hate making this claim; “It all sounds the same” is something that every metalhead is sick of hearing from their not-as-cool friends, but it reigns true here. The seemingly countless slow to mid tempo riffs fail to stand out amongst themselves. Without any amazing riffs, standout vocal melodies, or big changes in the instrumentation, most of Into The Catacomb Abyss’ ten songs get boring by the end of their sometimes six or seven-minute runtimes. This especially a problem when the song that follows feels like it picked up where the last one left off.
It’s the record’s last two tracks where we start to hear somewhat new elements, like faster, 16th note drumbeats and prominent strings in the song, “Ossified Remains,” or keys and catchier vocal harmonies in the final track, “A Forest Of Gravestones.” Unfortunately, by that point, these tracks aren’t as effective as they could be. I’d prefer to see them split up and placed throughout the album’s tracklist to give hints of that slight variety needed to keep the listener’s attention.
Although Into The Catacomb Abyss has so much potential with its high production value and talent, Unearthed Elf fails to produce an engaging record. This album works best if you see it as background music. Any of these tracks would be a perfect addition to a gaming or a metal playlist, but after this record’s over fifty-minute runtime, hearing such similar songs one after another feels more like a chore than a thrill.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Danielle Kenedy